Murmuration, in addition to being a perfectly lovely word, also captures one of the most wonderful phenomena one can encounter in nature. Behold, one of the loveliest viral videos of recent years:
Did you get goosebumps?
Thomas Jackson’s series “Emergent Behavior,” with its clever, irreverent portrayals of flocking behavior, both evokes and pokes fun at the majesty of the murmuration. Jackson’s swarms of quotidian, inanimate objects, like Post-it notes and Solo cups, gather for inscrutable purposes: a cloud of glowsticks on a beach (is it glowstick mating season?), or Post-its suspended like fireflies in a thin band just above the summer grass, or the colony of cheese balls below, perhaps in search of a new hive:
Emergent Behavior: Cheese Balls,
Jackson’s patterns are evocative of natural, biological phenomena; placed in a natural setting, they seem both eerie and humorous. Jackson says he intends to “tap into the fear and fascination” evoked by murmurations and other self-organizing biological phenomena. It’s an interesting turn of phrase: we are fascinated by these phenomena, but do we “fear” them? Does the transmutation of individual starlings into a wooshing thunderhead on fast-forward actually terrify us?